VATICAN CITY–U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 2 blasted China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims during a Vatican conference.
Pompeo reserved his toughest criticism for China in a keynote speech at a Vatican conference on religious freedom. The others were Cuba, Iran, Pakistan and Burma.
“When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens to worship the government, not God. That’s why China has put more than one million Uyghur Muslims … in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail,” he said.
“When the state rules absolutely, God becomes an absolute threat to authority,” he said.
Beijing faces growing international pressure as it continues to use the excuse of fighting terrorism and radicalization to persecute Uyghur Muslims.
The Chinese regime has intensified its crackdown on Uyghurs, including by establishing internment camps in Xinjiang where Uyghurs undergo political indoctrination and brainwashing in an attempt to force them into giving up their faith. Beijing calls the camps “vocational training centers” used to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.
“Today we must gird ourselves for another battle in defense of human dignity and religious freedom. The stakes are arguably higher than they were even during the Cold War, because the threats are more diverse and more numerous,” he said at the conference organized by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican.
Pompeo, who is due to meet Pope Francis on Thursday morning, later visited the Sistine Chapel and other parts of the Vatican museums.
His trip, which will also include a visit to his ancestral home in the rugged Abruzzo region northeast of Rome and stops in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Greece.
By Philip Pullella and David Brunnstrom. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.